DNA from ancient and environmental sources can be found in places like herbariums, which hold key information

August 8, 2022, by Lexi Earl

Our technology platforms: AEDNA

Over the next few weeks we will be featuring stories about our different technology platforms, their work and research, and the facilities available to researchers. These are also featured in our 2021 Annual Report. Today, we turn our attention to our new Ancient and Environmental DNA laboratory. 

We are very pleased that our Ancient and Environmental DNA lab (ÆDNA, pronounced Edna) is now open at our Sutton Bonington campus. The first of its kind at the University of Nottingham, and the only facility in the East Midlands, ÆDNA allows the isolation and analysis of damaged, degraded and low-copy DNA to address research questions across disciplines. The laboratory is open to anyone at the University and beyond, and has been co-financed with the support of the Department of Classics & Archaeology, the School of Geography, and the Life in Changing Environments Interdisciplinary Research Centre, as well as the Future Food Beacon.

Lead by Dr Andrew Clarke, the new laboratory will be a dedicated, high-specification facility. To avoid contamination and for publication, it is necessary for ancient DNA to be extracted in a dedicated facility built to recognised standards.

Degraded and low-copy DNA from ancient samples and the environment is used to address fundamental and applied questions in many disciplines, including evolution, plant science, environmental science, climate research, human diseases, and archaeology. The lab capitalises on advances in DNA isolation, sequencing and computational biology to analyse ancient, environmental and other low-copy DNA from a variety of sources, including archaeological material, herbarium and museum specimens, and sediments (for example, lake cores), and will allow us to analyse environmental DNA from water and soil samples.

This work is important to understanding how genetic diversity has changed over time, and has important implications for climate research, as these changes include adaptations to climate directly as well as climate- mediated effects on food production, biodiversity, invasive species, disease and extinction.

More on the facilities at ÆDNA can be found here. Contact ÆDNA via Andrew Clarke. Follow Andrew of Twitter.

Posted in Food Research